BBAO: Secure roster spot for Donald Driver

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The details of the Green Bay Packers' renegotiated deal with receiver Donald Driver suggest the team has every intention of keeping him on the roster in 2012.

Initially, you wondered if the Packers would insist on a contract that paid Driver nothing if he were cut before the start of the regular season. But ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt reports that Driver received $500,000 in "upfront money" and would earn a total of $2.5 million over the course of the season.

NFL teams don't typically do financial favors for players, even celebrated veterans like Driver. So while $500,000 isn't exactly a mint in NFL terms, it's enough to confirm Driver is very much in the Packers' plans. All indications are that his skills will have to drop notably for him to lose a roster spot.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Packers tight end Jermichael Finley thinks he played like a "robot" last season, didn't have good chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and plans to "freestyle" more in 2012, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. Finley: "Play fast, not count my steps, not worrying about how the defense is playing me or what the defense is doing and just do me. If I do me, it can take my game to the next level. That’s where I struggle. I get out there and think too much. If I let my game speak for itself, I can take this league over at the position. If you go out there with too much on your head, it can mess up your game." Oh boy.

  • Packers linebacker Erik Walden on his brief incarceration last year, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Now, man, I feel good. Football is easy now. After going through what I went through last year, I look at it totally different. Football ain't hard. This is fun. That's my approach to it."

  • New defensive lineman Philip Merling reported to the Packers a bit heavy, notes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • Here's what Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said when asked whether he has gone along with general manager Rick Spielman's rebuilding plan, via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune: "When we're building a team, it's we. It's not 'Rick.' Rick could not build this team without the head coach being in concert with him in doing that. That wouldn't be good for he or I. … There isn't a decision that's made that the two of us don't talk about and agree upon. It would just not be good. So the decisions that have been made are decisions that were discussed and we were in agreement that this is the right thing to do. It's hard to build a team if the general manager and the head coach aren't on the same page. And we are, thank goodness."

  • The Vikings are putting a big emphasis on offseason participation, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • Receiver Percy Harvin (shoulder) hopes to participate in organized team activities (OTAs) next week, notes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.

  • The home of Detroit Lions receiver Titus Young was broken into over the winter, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

  • Lions president Tom Lewand on the decision of defensive end Cliff Avril to work out on his own this offseason, via Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com: "I don't question Cliff's commitment, his work ethic, anything. He's made a choice to work out on his own. These are obviously voluntary sessions. We can only talk about the guys who are here."

  • Chicago Bears receiver/returner Devin Hester is emotional about the future of fellow Bears receiver Johnny Knox, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.

  • Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com checks in with Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell.

  • There is already scrutiny of offensive lineman Gabe Carimi's durability, writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.